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Beginner vs. Advanced Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Chillihead, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    My apologies if this has been asked before:

    What constitutes a begginer bass?

    And what constitutes a 'better' bass?

    So, am I disadvantaging myself in any way by learning on a 'lesser' bass?
  2. artistanbul

    artistanbul Nihavend Longa Vita Brevis

    Apr 15, 2003
    no. starting on a beginner bass is better. in beginning one should go for a standard, easy to step around bass. not an ibanez. though it has "entry level" basses mostly, they definitely don't make good beginner basses.

    and you will strain yourself on that bass, and when you move forward, there will be much rejoicing :) And if you got into this mess, you WILL buy other basses :D

    you should buy a good, standard bass. I did so.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    that post confused me.

    anyway. No , not disadvantages, unless you hate it and you quit playing.
  4. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Generally, beginner basses will be made of lower quality materials and in a factory in Asia (not that this necessarily means the build quality will be lesser FWIW) - but they are churned out in huge numbers with generally a lower quality control.

    As such, those basses will probably not sound as "good" as more expensive basses and may have some cosmetic issues that may or may not affect how the instrument plays. However, if the instrument "plays" badly, you may find that it is uncomfortable to play and it may discourage your from practising more. Generally if a beginner instrument sounds bad (compared to a higher end instrument) its not going to be a problem for the beginner.

    The same sort of issues that affect beginners instruments also affect more expensive instruments (ie bad frets) however you will generally find that the higher QC in more expensive instruments makes this less of a risk.

    Basically, just get an instrument that you can afford and that you feel comfortable playing - there is probably no point starting out on a $4000 Conlkin 11 string custom because you will be overwhelmed. But there is no harm starting off on a "good" bass - you dont have to start on a budget instrument.

    That said, there are a lot of good instruments to be bought for very little money nowadays - either used or new (see the Essex Megathread).
  5. Chillihead,

    I would recommend trying to find a used Fender Standard Precision-Bass (Or P-Bass) . This is a tried and true design that is fairly inexpensive and very simple to use. It has one pickup and two knobs, one for volume and one for tone. These basses have a great sound to them and are usually fairly easy to play. Also, the quality is such that, if you really get in to it, this bass will hold its own at any gig.

    Another good thing is that these basses have a fairly good resale value. So if you decide the bass is not for you, you can recoup most of your money. This would be less likely if you go with some no-name beginner bass. Plus you can find these on used ebay quite often for a couple hunderd bucks.

    Also, since these basses are so popular, there are tons of aftermarket upgrade parts for them. This is good, if you continue to progress, because you can add things like active electronics and a heavier bridge which will carry you a long way before you need to buy a more expensive instrument.

    Later on, when you start looking at things like exotic 5 or 6 string basses, you'll probably want to hang on to your trusty ole' P-Bass for that distinctive sound they are so well known for.

    Hope that helps
  6. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    If your parents buy it, start on a beginner. If you use your own money, buy something good, and brand new so you won't quit and sell on eBay losing half your money. That's what I did and it worked :p
  7. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I would agree about getting a Fender Standard P-bass for a first bass if one can afford it. As the previous poster said, it's a simple, tried and tru design that can be easily modified. The instrument is also professional quality and can be carried to any gig. Although name shouldn't mean anything, musicians will sometimes make initial judgements based on equipment, therefore an industry standard like Fender is a great brand to own. I would also mention Yamaha. I think they make great basses and they can be had for even less than a MIM Femder.
  8. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    Thanks guys (?)

    I already own my own bass, a cheap Samick 4 string which I bought online, although I did get to see and hear it before the purchase was completed. I don't have any problems with it and don't find it uncomfortable to play, especially now that I've taken advice from here and hitched my strap up tight! I do some fret buzz, but I think it's more likely to be technique than setup.

    With all the talk about 'beginner' basses I was a bit worried that other than the sound, there may have been more (less?) to a 'beginner' bass, and that for some reason a better bass may be easier to play. It sounds like neither of these are true.

    I'm never likely to be doing any serious gigging, more like small informal gatherings, so quality of sound or build don't worry me a lot. But one can never be entirely sure of these things...
  9. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    I forgot to add that despite my newness to this instrument I am considering a 5 string (think Audioslave, US 3) - I presume the above advice is also true for a 5 stringer?
  10. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    One more thing (last one I swear!).

    I do find that the tips of my picking fingers dry out and start slipping on the strings.

    I presume that this is a common thing? If not is it a sign of rubbish strings? Worn strings? What can I do about it?
  11. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    Sound pertains to your ears and not the brand name or cost of your bass.

    nuff said by me.

  12. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    To an extent, you should be prepared to spend a little more on the 5 string than you would on the equivalent 4 string because the quality of the neck and build of the bass may affect how well the lowest notes (ie the low-B) will "sound out" on the bass. Also poor quality basses tend to have a "floppy B" (ie the low B string is not as "tight" in feel as the other strings).

    As the price of basses goes up you start to see better build quality (read quality control in mass produced basses), better woods (ie more expensive or better selection crieteria), better hardware (ie bridge / tuners) and better electronics (ie name brand stuff).

    Most people find that a more expensive bass plays better because the better build quality allows it to be more easily set up to the players liking - however this doesn't mean a cheap bass can't be set up well.

    If you like the sound of your bass and how it plays there is really no reason to change unless *you* want a different bass. Maybe try going to a GC and trying a few basses in different price ranges and see if you can tell the difference.
  13. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I own a cheap Samick Les Paul clone for when I need a guitar to try something. I actually cannot believe the quality for the price I paid. I would say as long as *you* are happy with the bass, keep playing it. If you are at all handy with tools, go to the Fender site http://mrgearhead.com/ and get the bass setup guide. That will give you a good medium setup. Don't worry that it is Fender specific. It helps to be able to do simple setup and a cheap bass is a good place to start.
  14. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    Well hey Sean! Yep, I'm happy with my Samick. I got a small 15W amp with it, which puts out a nice sound when I crank up the overdrive, but I don't know what it sounds like through a big amp (other than through my stereo). One day I may be able to justify getting say, a 400W setup...
  15. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Buy the best quality name bass that you can afford for the best possible price. A good quality bass will be easier to play and you will advance quicker.

    As you become more proficient on it you may decide to change basses. Buying the best quality bass will be easier to sell and if you buy right, you can make money on the sale.

    For starter basses, I always recommend buying a Fender. A MIM will do just fine if it's set up properly. If and when you decide to unload it, you will have a much easier time selling it.

    I would caution buying boutique basses, if you can spend that much right now, new or otherwise. They can have questionable resale appeal and value, depending on the market conditions where you live. Not in all cases, mind you, but many of us have been burned in the past.

    good luck

  16. I second the Fender MIM(Made in Mexico) suggestion, actually that is what I was implying with the Fender Standard Series.

    Chilihead, based on your follow-ups, I would now suggest a Fender MIM Standard Jazz Bass V. These are fairly good five strings for starters, plus again there are quite a few aftermarket parts for it. Also, since you are looking for that Audioslave sound, I am pretty sure that Tim Commerford(SP?) uses a Fender Jazz Bass most of the time. Only I believe he uses a four string version that has been modified quite a bit.

    As far as Samick quality goes. I believe Samick had been producing guitars for a good number of big-name companies for years before marketing their own brand. Two of my friends play Samick basses and both are very nice, especially for the money they paid. One of their basses is a dead ringer for an Ibanez Soundgear bass. Makes you wonder. :meh:
  17. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    Sean, couldn't find a 'bass setup guide' but a 'guitar setup guide' - same thing?
  18. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Sorry, I forgot that they hide the bass setup deep in the bowels of the site. http://www.mrgearhead.com/faq/basssetup.html
  19. Chillihead


    Mar 31, 2004
    New Zealand
    Thanks Sean, got it.
  20. I agree that a P-bass is the best starter bass. It will serve as a great reference for everything you play later, and if you get a good one first time out you will want to keep it forever. Nothing does as many different things well as a Precision.

    I would suggest beginning on a 4 string, and switching to 5 later if you need the B. Keeping that low B string under control and muted adds some difficulty for a while.

    I tried to begin on a 5'er and I got rid of it and played a 4 for a few years before successfully moving up to 5.



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